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Building Better Teams - A Salute to Eddie


Last week was Detroit Startup Week, where Metro Detroit’s entrepreneur community came together to learn, connect and celebrate. It was an amazing week with tons of great networking sessions, awesome events and thought-provoking presentations.  My favorite presentation of the week was done by Emily Meinke, of Google.

Emily is the Sales Lead, Canada Agency Market at Google and talked about how Google set out to discover what makes a perfect team. The project was code-named Aristotle, due to his quote “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". In her talk Emily showcased two teams, one comprised of highly efficient high lever execs that were experts in their fields with a systematic approach to execution, and one that was comprised of high performing execs, and middle managers with few professional accomplishments, that engaged in highly interactive casual discussions regarding not only the project but their personal lives. According to Google’s research the second team would have the tendency to be more successful due to the diversity of the team.  Here is a New York Times article that details the study: NY Times

Emily detailed that it is not enough to create a diverse team, in order to be successful you need to ensure there is trust and structure to these teams. She explained the concept of “Phycological Safety” where team members need to know that they will not be vilified by making a mistake or coming up with an off the wall idea. When you have the security of knowing that your ideas will not be disparaged you will perform better, gain confidence and contribute more.

This made me think of the teams that I have been a part of, and how we tend to treat people with the same set of expectations. We define what it is that we need people to do and then we evaluate them according to these guidelines. What is tricky is that you can’t treat people the same because people are, well… different. They have different skill sets, different motivations and different performance levels. If we were to create teams with people that are inherently the same, then we would be faced with a cluster of people crowding the same lanes.

Adam Grant addresses this in his Podcast “Work Life“. In the episode “The Problem with All Stars”, Adam talks about how having a team filled with All Starts will not necessarily bring you a championship because they end up all focusing on the same thing. In order to be truly successful, you need someone on the team that is willing to do the other things that need to be done. He gives the example of the Miami Heat, where they brought in three superstars (Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade), but did not win a championship until they were able to fill the roster with role players such as Shane Battier. Shane Battier did not have the same skill set as the other starts but was willing to do the things that needed to be done to make the team successful. Rebounding, defending, motivating, giving maximum effort. Because of players like him, the Heat ended up winning back to back championships.

Which brings me to Eddie. Steady Eddie. Every team needs some steady Eddies. These are the team members that are not looking to be promoted, they love what they do and know their role extremely well. They are the ones that you can count on day in and day out not matter what. Just because they are not looking to advance their career, does not mean that they are any less valuable that the high performer that is climbing the ladder. In fact, you will be doing yourself a disservice if you evaluate Eddie against your superstar. They are different, they fill different roles, and truth be told, your superstars would not be able to perform the way they do if it wasn’t for Eddie.

So next time you are evaluating your team, or you are getting ready to do some performance reviews, make sure to salute the Eddie’s on your team. Show them how critical they are to the teams they are in. Show them the love you would show your superstar, because they are just as valuable.

Andre Mello is a Certified Business Coach and is a big fan of all the Eddies in the world. He has been in marketing and leadership for over 17 years. If you would like to connect with Andre please visit www.wysecoaching.com

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